First Impressions of Warhammer 40,000: 8th Edition

Wow...

Are you ready to get your mind blown? Because that's what happened when I actually stopped looking at the rulebook and played my first game of 8th Edition. In this game, I brought a basic army of Ultramarines versus a standard Astra Militarum force with a few tanks and some infantry squads at 1000 points for a basic Annihilation mission. Annihilation mission is simply "Kill as many enemies as possible". 

I'm calling the Astra Militarum the Imperial Guard from here on in,

they've always have been and will be the Imperial Guard in my eyes! 

*cough* 

Anyways...

So we set up our forces in a standard 12" deployment from the table edge, which was only 4'x4', and alternated placing units down one at a time. In previous editions, one player sets up everything and then the other player. This really doesn't seem like much on the surface, but it does have you think about where you are deploying your units to try and play an early mind game with your opponent. Since I was Space Marines, I naturally had a smaller force. So I concentrated everyone onto one side. I decided to Teleport in my 2nd captain and charge the Sentinels that were set up on the far side of the map with the intent of killing them or at least locking them up into close combat for a turn or two. When you teleport in, you can teleport in at the end of the Movement phase. Even on turn 1.

That was Mistake #1.

What I failed to realize was that the dice could make it so that I couldn't charge. And the dice did just that.

He didn't die, but my Warlord sure did bottom of turn 1. How you may ask? 

Well, I moved my squad up with both Rhinos to make their way towards the front to do my standard "Get out and shoot with Bolters at Guardsman" tactic. The Warlord was in the back so he couldn't be shot at as mentioned in a previous article. Well, the Stormtroopers had the ability to drop in behind me so long as they were outside of 9".

And they had Plasma Guns that Overcharged.

And he was the closest.

He died. Mistake #2.

Later in the game's cycle, I got my two Tactical Squads within Rapid Fire range so they can unload their payload into the Guardsman squads. Then I started to read "Rapid Fire"....

So in the rulebook under weapon types, have you read Rapid Fire?

The rulebook is at certain Local Game Stores that carry Games Workshop products right now. If you are in the Wilmington, NC area, Cape Fear Games has a copy. If you are in Greenville, NC, Blue Ox Games has a copy. If you are in Jacksonville, NC, Hobby Chest has a copy. For those of you that haven't, it states the following:

A model firing a Rapid Fire weapon doubles the number of attacks it makes if its target is within half the weapon’s maximum range.
— Warhammer 40,000: 8th Edition Rulebook

Usually there was something else tacked on at the end of that sentence.

Must've been an oversight, probably somewhere else, I thought.

I decided to read Heavy weapons.

If a model with a Heavy weapon moved in its preceding Movement phase, you must subtract 1 from any hit rolls made when firing that weapon this turn.
— Warhammer 40,000: 8th Edition Rulebook

Still not seeing it, maybe under the Charge phase.

Let's try "Choose Unit to Charge With"

Any of your units within 12” of the enemy in your charge phase can make a charge move. You may not choose a unit that has Advanced or Fell Back this turn, nor one that started the Charge phase within 1” of an enemy.
— Warhammer 40,000: 8th Edition Rulebook

There's nothing in those few sentences that says the following like in previous editions: 

(or anywhere else for that matter in the 8th Edition Rulebook)

...a model that fires a Rapid Fire or Heavy weapon cannot charge into close combat.
— Warhammer 40,000: 7th Edition Rulebook

You can charge after you fire a Rapid Fire/Heavy weapon!

This is a GIGANTIC shift in how units behave on the table. No longer are you bailing your Tactical Squads out just to have them spend one round of shooting and doing nothing else but stand out in the open waiting to get charged or shot at. You can get that Tactical Squad in close after firing those Bolters! Guardsman squads can now Fix Bayonettes and charge into close combat after dumping a ton of Lasgun shots into you with Sarge swinging that Power Sword first upon charging. Devastator squads can move, shoot, and charge after firing their Heavy weapons, making them not as static as they once were and weapons like Multi-meltas more viable. Charging certain units like Berserkers and Assault Marines can make it so that you could potentially take out some of their models before they get to swing since units that charged go first and alternate afterwards (except Tyranid Warriors with Lash Whips, they'll still swing before you, and Daemonettes, and Howling Banshees...). But regardless, for the most part, you still have a chance now!

I also wondered... 

"Well, if Rapid Fire weapons can fire and still charge, what's the point of Assault weapons?"

A model with an Assault weapon can fire it even if it Advanced earlier that turn. If it does so, you must subtract 1 from any hit roll made when firing that weapon that turn.
— Warhammer 40,000: 8th Edition Rulebook

So things like Shotguns, Deathspitters from Termagaunts, Ork Rokkit Launchas, Big Shootas, Shootas, Grenade Launchers, all of these things can move faster and STILL shoot and STILL assault?! That's gonna make units like Shootas and Termagaunts behave very differently in this edition, allowing them to close the distance, shoot on their target, and charge it!

There was another thing I did notice that was a big benefit to Imperial Guardsman. Because Bolters and most standard Rapid Fire weapons have no AP value anymore, that means that Guardsman actually get a chance to withstand Bolter fire out in the open on a 5+! Granted, their save in cover isn't as good as in previous editions, but it does make it so that it is not mandatory to put them into a building anymore or behind an Aegis Defense Line. It certainly does help, but it doesn't make them go away as easily as in previous editions. This one simple change makes it so that Horde armies with low saves aren't automatically swept away by small arms fire. It took quite a bit of fire power to put down a unit of Guardsman. It wasn't as easy as in previous editions because now they get a chance to negate that small arms fire.

Tanks and transports in this edition have definitely improved with the small addition of allowing them to charge into close combat. It makes it so that the transport can take the blunt of the Overwatch shots while your squad can charge in free and clear. Being able to charge after bailing out of a transport does make them great delivery devices to bring your units to bear. 

Also, Frag and Krak Missiles are far more effective! In two round of shooting four Krak Missiles, I managed to get a Leman Russ Battle Tank down to 2 wounds with good rolls. The first volley made it so that the tank wasn't as effective at shooting my Tactical Marines, but it didn't die outright to that one good roll like in previous editions. It also got a chance to shrug off those missiles, which it did a few times out in the open. Also being able to fire at D6 shots for a Frag versus at most getting previously at best 3 models is a big boost to Frag Missiles! Being able to split fire with all of your units makes you think about and actually want to put Heavy weapons in with your basic troops since they can attempt to pick at heavier targets separately. This wasn't something I could do in previous editions and forced me to split them up into Combat Squads in order to use them this way while the Bolters in those squads did squat. No longer the case in this edition! Take those Heavy weapons people! You'll be wishing you did when those Devastator squads start taking wounds...

Speaking of Combat Squads, you definitely want to consider that in this edition if you are a Space Marine player. Why you may ask? Morale. In one round of shooting, I took 5 casualties in a 10 man squad. In previous editions, you would just take a Morale check, more than likely pass it, and move on with life. Oh no. Not this edition! You start losing models now. In order for me to not remove models (MODELS for those of you who run Terminators and Paladins), I had to roll a 3 on a D6 (3+5 = 8 Leadership for Sergeant). Granted And They Shall Know No Fear helps in this regard, it still hurts to lose a few Marines to a bad dice roll or two. I rolled two 6s for the record. If you lose 3 models from a 5 man unit, you only lose one guy on a 6 if your Sergeant is there or the rest of the squad if he isn't there. 

Morale definitely plays a huge role in this game now. Sometimes its wise to NOT shoot at units after they have suffered some casualties since Space Marines can actually start losing models after unsuccessful Morale checks. Commissars are mandatory in my opinion since they make it so that at most, you are losing only one model due to a failed Morale check. Horde armies do start to get weeded out by a combination of small arms fire and Morale checks. Certain units and rules do help them in this regard, so consider taking them if they're in your army!

How did my game go you may ask? I took quite a bit of casualties and the store was closing up shop by the time we got into top of 4, so the Guard player got a Minor Victory out of me. He had a Basilisk, Medusa, 4 Guardsman squads, Platoon Commander, Company Commander, Commissar, and 2 Sentinels left while I had a Sergeant, a Captain with 1 wound left, a Company Ancient with full wounds, two Rhinos, and 5 Marines from another squad left.

Overall, I'm very excited to see where this game goes now. Nothing in the books stood out as overpowered or "Auto include". Units will behave very differently now with these changes and things that are "fluffy" will still be pretty competitive and stand a chance in normal games. Close Combat can happen as soon as Turn 1 with the way the new "Deep Strike" works. Now that you can charge after coming on the board AND can do that Turn 1, it is very possible and plausible. There was no Instant Death weapons that straight up removed your models with no save possible (unless you stare down the barrel of 3 Plasma Guns like Captain I-Don't-Wanna-Be-In-the-Middle-and-Fail-My-Saves learned). I honestly can't wait to play more games with this edition and try out other units to see how they fair up!